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Dating: There's An App For That

February 13, 2014, 10:03 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Dating: There's An App For That
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and if you don't have a date yet-- there's an app for that.

Many people have found love on sites like Match.com and eHarmony, but a new way of dating is starting to emerge from smart phones and tablets.

We take a look at dating apps, and how they could be changing the look of relationships for future generations.

It wasn't too long ago that online dating had a stigma of embarrassment for some. But views have been changing, opening the door for more virtual dating opportunities, like smart phone apps.

"Online dating apps is really just taking the online website dating apps and bringing it to your cell phone, so it's making it about as easy for the user as it can get," social media expert, Tamara Parliament said.

Tamara Parliament is a social media expert with Click Rain, and uses one of the most popular dating apps, Tinder.

She says sites like Match and eHarmony have been appealing to a wider age-range in recent years, but the newer apps are geared toward the younger generations.

"Instead of having to create a long, in-depth profile about who you are, it's very simple. You create the app, you download the app, connect it to your Facebook and you're up and running within a minute," Parliament said. 

"These apps kind of have a purpose. That is for that kind of immediate, 'I'd like to meet somebody. I'd like to go have coffee, or I'd like to hook-up.' Those are essentially the intention of these," Benjamin Kohls with Avera Health said. 

Benjamin Kohls is a therapist with Avera Behavioral Health. He says this new way of dating is where the world is heading with our constantly connected culture.

"Everything is happening right now, right here. So, I'm standing in line at Target returning a sweatshirt and I'm scrolling through the latest profile updates on my dating app," Kohls said.

"Typically it seems like people are really looking for those as more of a replacement for going out into society and going out to socializing places like bars and clubs. And instead, using their phones, maximizing their time." Parliament said. 

Another reason apps like Plenty of Fish, Tinder and others have grown in popularity is their use for hooking up.

Parliament says not everyone uses the apps for a one-night stand, but there are plenty of people out there just looking for something casual.

"It's a bit of a different meet-up. When you look at online dating sites, you get the full profile and understand these people's interest and who they are. When you're on these dating apps, like Tinder, you only get a very quick overview of people. It's their photo, their name and their age," Parliament said. 

"Typically if you were kind of bored, you'd probably just stay there or maybe go out to a restaurant or out to a bar and try to meet somebody that way. Now, you type in your area code of where you're at and it pops up, ok, these 30 people are available tonight," Kohls said. 

Kohls says this new way of meeting people could be changing the definition of the word "dating" for future generations.

"These applications, again, seem more focused on self and kind of my wants or my gratifications. Those kind of things. What do I want right now and how can I get it. And so it really in that respect isn't dating. Because when we're dating somebody, we're interested in that other person. We're interested in what that other person wants, or what that other person thinks," Kohls said. 

And just like any casual relationship, the apps can pose threats to your health and safety if users aren't cautious.

"There's a higher rate of STD's. There's a higher rate of potential criminal activity being involved. Somebody gets your information and either identity theft or something even more personal like black mail," Kohls said. 

While it can present some dangers, the best thing those using the apps can do, is be cautious.

"I would say that, in my opinion, generally most people are looking to actually meet people and find people. And whether or not that actually pans out to a full blown relationship or marriage. It really depends," Parliament said. 

"I think if people have that expectation going in that, I'm going to use this dating app to find somebody that I might want to have as my partner, for a long period of time. Are probably going to be disappointed," Kohls said.

Parliament suggests, in addition to meeting in public places, using a Google voice number and creating a fake email address as a few ways to stay safe while dating online.

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